Answer 16: 27 proofs of “The First Church”
16. They had essentials of church life (Matt. 4:19)
Matthew chapter 4, verse 19 states the following:
And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Matthew 4:19)
Now, correct me if I am wrong, but weren’t the Israelites also supposed to preach of the gospel as well? Certainly Romans, chapter 10 tells us they did:
And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. (Romans 10:15-18)
The “their” in the above passage is none other than Israel. Hence, by this logic and proof, S. E. Anderson has actually supported the idea that Israel and the New Testament church, are one.
However, isn’t there more to the “essentials of church life” than only presenting the gospel to the lost? Doesn’t the Scripture show us that much must be done to teach members? I think the following passages are instructive:
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)
There are clearly four things given to the church to accomplish in the Great Commission:
The value and preeminence of teaching is confirmed in other passages of Scripture:
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16)
Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec. Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit. (Hebrews 5:10-6:3)
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (II Peter 1:5-11)
These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (I Timothy 3:14-15)
All the above involve teaching individuals who are already saved and members of a New Testament church. To claim the essence of being a member of a New Testament church consists only of presenting the gospel, is to deny one the ability to grow in the knowledge and understanding of the LORD. This is plainly reflected in the following passages:
For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; . . . (Colossians 1:9-10)
Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. (II Timothy 2:14-18)
Plainly, there is much more to the essentials of church life than either presenting the gospel, and/or teaching members how to present the gospel. Rather, there is teaching about:
- The LORD God, His character and His nature.
- There is the teaching of the basics of doctrine as laid out in Hebrews, chapter 6 (which are almost never taught).
- There is much to be taught about how and why Israel failed in the covenant.
- The nature of man.
- The nature of righteousness
- The nature of iniquity
- The judgment of the LORD: His methods and purpose.
- How and why churches fail.
And many other things which are virtually never touched on in the vast majority of churches. To only focus on the gospel and the presentation of the gospel is to set a church up for failure, and to deny it the ability to function as the pillar and ground of the truth.